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August 05, 2007


I have to admit it. My affection for the current Administration is due in no small measure to the agita the Administration causes to Paul Krugman, Rik Hertzberg, Eleanor Rodham Clift and their colleagues at the Times, the New Yorker and Newsweek. Seeing them fulminate helplessly about Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Gonzales and the whole wonderful gang just makes my heart go pittapat. How can something that feels this good be wrong?

It was a stupid editorial, but it wasn't about nothing. It was about how service industries are providing less and less service for no real cost savings. And it's deeply true: ATMs have replaced a lot of bank tellers, almost all gas is self serve now (yeah, yeah, New Jersey), supermarket checkouts, etc. etc. There are conveniences (bank tellers don't work at 2:00am), but the point stands that most of us are paying companies to tell us to do it ourselves. And we do. Even when it's really annoying.

Worth a NYT sunday editorial? Probably not. Worthy of note? Certainly.

And by the way, my wife recently witnessed a coffee shop employee tell a 10 year old boy who had ordered some fancy latte for his mom that they didn't have time to make it. The line was really long. There is some sort of masochism going on here.

The beginning of the sinister self service conspiracy was salad bars. I've known that for years. Fish's column was weak because 1) he ignored salad bars and 2) he went on too long and forgot that in many places you have to serve your own coffee from a carafe. He was so intent on proving he can write he wasted a lot of space on a relatively small point. There is so much to say about sald bars.

"There is so much to say about sald bars."


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